We recently took the kids on a road trip to Noosa, the happiest place on earth. From our house in Sydney, that means we need to drive for approximately 14-hour straight (not including bladder-related interruptions). We thought this could be fun as we were dying for some warmth, and what could be a better destination than sunny Queensland?
Most families, of course, would fly this distance, but we weren’t entirely cashed-up for this break, so we knew we had to do it smart. With a family of six kids, plane fares are an unthinkable extravagance and it’s pure luxury to spend a night in a hotel, so we knew we’d have to leg-it the full 16 hours...
Call it thrifty, call it mad, but here’s our survival guide on how we made it through the hardcore 16 hours, but entirely brilliant, a road trip with six kids.
1. We warned the kids
This was to be our first and most important task. We had to get the kids’ heads in the game, they had to believe it was going to be brutal, but was going to be worth the wait, because after all, it was destination Noosa!
‘Are we there yet?’
‘If you ask that again, it’ll be devices off whilst we listen to daddy whistle the entire miserable back catalog of The Smiths, and trust me you don’t want to go there, dude’.
We told the kids that we would be in the car FOREVER… we’d be eating breakfast, lunch, dinner and probably eat the following day’s meals in the car too.
“Kids, you know how at Christmas, how great uncle Norman spends the whole day, eating drinking and sleeping in the one chair? Yep? Well, that’s going to be you if you want to go to Noosa, understood?
There were to be no misconceptions about this trip - it would be a bloody long one!
2. Started early
We woke the kids at sparrows fart (five) and lifted the smallest into their car seats. We kissed their little heads and told them to close their eyes because it was still night time.
‘We don’t want to wake the little birdies!’ There was to be a no talking rule until the sun came up.
The bigger ones thought this was hysterical and kicked-back to enjoy the peace and quiet as the little ones were entirely convinced that this was state law - a necessity.
Hubby and I scored two hours of glorious stony silence together. We held hands and pretended to be on an adult-getaway…
3. Egg and bacon sambo en-route
It was obviously way too early to have breaky before we left home, so I prepared some protein and carb fillers the night before. It meant tummies were full and our body clocks were on the same page for the rest of the trip. More about this later…
4. A road trip playlist
Our family loves music. We all go just a little crazy when our favourite tunes get turned on. This is a family sing-along at it’s best. No Ten Green Bottles on this bus.
Dad enjoys nothing more than choosing and dedicating each song to a fellow passenger. Each member takes pride in the song that is now officially theirs. I felt not-so-honoured when he dedicated “Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads to me, much to the delight of the rest of the car Qu’est que c’est?
We planned our tunes in advance. Each kid had his/her favourites so we’d take it in turns enjoying (or enduring) whosever turn it was. Each track lasts 3-5 minutes - time just ticks away… Boom!
5. Everyone gets to drink and pee at the same time
Harsh but stick with me…. as the saying goes… a family that drinks together… pees together. This might seem ridiculous but it’s a matter of math - if you’ve got eight people all needing to pee at different times, that’s a load more time added in getting to your destination.
6. Rucksack of ammunition
You’ll notice I call it ammunition and it is… we had the potential for a load of skirmish and I needed a combat plan.
We had all the weaponry available to us. From tissues and wet wipes to colouring-in and sticker books. We had audio tapes, small cheap toys and teeny puzzles. I even tied pencils one to the next.. for a one-for-all pickup. The plane fares may have been cheaper...
The timing of these hand-outs was even more important than the artillery itself. ONE item at a time, just as things were turning foul… and not a moment sooner!
7. Keep it healthy
Something I learnt the hard way. Sugary handouts result in spew. It’s almost a guarantee. Cucumber and celery sticks might have you rolling your eyeballs, but they are by far and beyond your best friend on a long car trip. Adding some sliced apple and some cheese and savoury crackers and we were set!
8. Devices are heaven-sent
If you’re the Eye Spy variety, I like you but I might have lost you by now. We’ve tried this, but it really just amounted to dad spoiling the game with ‘B for bumps’ and ‘E for edges’. You get my drift.
Devices are GOLD naturally the biggest ammunition that exists (that and a Krispy Kreme). Throw in a few batteries, the device charges, some new downloads and you’ve got the rest of this road trip sewn up!
9. If they’re happy, don’t interrupt them
Are you crazy?! If there’s peace, don’t bother pointing out a BIG banana (or prawn for that matter).
My husband was like ‘hey, honey! look at that beautiful….’ which was promptly met with a quietening and a steely look of despair. Was he kidding me? Even BIGger things were at stake here.
We arrived in Noosa some sixteen hours later. We had no spew, very few arguments and an all-round seemingly swift and easy trip. It wasn’t paradise, but it truly wasn’t a bad experience at all, in fact, the kids were total champions and the destination? made for all the more a delight because of the great journey that brought us to it.
Now… about what happened on the trip home…